Why We Drive: On Freedom, Risk and Taking Back Control (Hardback)
  • Why We Drive: On Freedom, Risk and Taking Back Control (Hardback)

Why We Drive: On Freedom, Risk and Taking Back Control (Hardback)

Hardback 368 Pages / Published: 16/07/2020
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Waterstones Says

Taking the act of driving as a metaphor for wider changes in society, politics and culture, Crawford blends engineering with philosophy to create a uniquely insightful and entertaining self-help guide for the modern age. 

Why We Drive is a rebellious and daring celebration of the human spirit and the competence of ordinary people by the bestselling author of The Case for Working with Your Hands, 'one of the most influential thinkers of our time' (Sunday Times).

Once we were drivers, the open road alive with autonomy and adventure. Today we are as likely to be in the back seat of an Uber as behind the wheel. As we hurtle toward a shiny, happy 'self-driving' future, are we destined to become passengers in our own lives too?

Driving, it turns out, offers a near-perfect embodiment of the broader changes being wrought by government and technology throughout our lives. In Why We Drive, the philosopher and mechanic Matthew Crawford shows the driver's seat to be one of the few remaining places where we still regularly take risk, exercise skill and enjoy freedom. But it is here too that we discover what we are losing to automation and the technocrats, and who will profit from the vision of progress they press upon us.

Blending philosophy with hands-on storytelling and drawing on his own experience in the garage and behind the wheel, Crawford leads us on an irreverent but deeply considered inquiry into the power of faceless bureaucracies, the importance of questioning mindless rules and the battle for democratic self-determination against the surveillance capitalists. In turn he speaks up for rivalry and play, solidarity and dissent - and the existential value of occasionally being scared shitless.

Wry, humane and occasionally hilarious, Why We Drive takes us to the heart of one of the defining questions of our times: who is really in control?

'One of the most original and mind-opening studies of practical philosophy to have appeared for many years' John Gray

Publisher: Vintage Publishing
ISBN: 9781847925114
Number of pages: 368
Weight: 691 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 162 mm

One of the most original and mind-opening studies of practical philosophy to have appeared for many years -- John Gray * Unherd *
Persuasive and thought-provoking ... a vivid and heartfelt manifesto against ...the loss of individual agency and the human pleasure of acquired skill and calculated risk ... Not since Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance has someone better articulated the soul-enhancing possibilities of tinkering with tools, making useful stuff work well ... a powerful (and enjoyable) corrective against that wisdom that suggests the unchecked march of all-seeing tech monopolies ... is essential to human progress -- TIM ADAMS * Observer *
Matthew Crawford is the grand master of the everyday. He alerts us to the deeper meaning in ordinary activities, such as driving a car, and how they connect to concerns about freedom, responsibility and moral choice. Even if you have no interest in driving you will find yourself swept up by his elegant prose and glad to find his humane intelligence doing battle with some of the most troubling trends in modern life -- DAVID GOODHART, author of The Road to Somewhere
Matthew Crawford is one of those who believes that western societies are being blighted by what he terms safetyism, the elevation of safety above all else. He argues that when the state cocoons its citizens from dangers, people lose the elemental pleasure, autonomy, mastery and sense of discovery that comes from taking their own decisions and risks ... He makes the case for a broader view of the purpose of life than simply the defence of it ... I am with Crawford -- JENNI RUSSELL * The Times *
A pleasure to read ... His thesis demands that he convey the pleasure of driving, and he's up to the task ... And he addresses some huge, fascinating issues: how people retain self-respect when computers are deskilling them, and sovereignty over their lives when computers are spying on them. Much of modern life raises these questions, but people's relationship with their cars perhaps best exemplifies them ... an enjoyable, scenic cruise round a fascinating landscape -- EMMA DUNCAN * Sunday Times *
Crawford spreads his wings way beyond cars ... neither of the right nor of the left, and certainly not of the centre ... this book is about a freedom that is being lost to the cynics of surveillance ... a defence of the felt life against the intrusions of the technocrats ... absorbing ... there is hope for the humans and the gearheads -- BRYAN APPLEYARD * New Statesman *
A biographical, philosophical inquiry that explores a fascinating paradox: the whole allure of driving is freedom, but it's also dangerous, so it has to be regulated ... The political and cultural consensus in the 21st century is anti-car: it's unsafe, polluting, selfish. Crawford turns some of these ideas upside down ... This is a lovely book that applies history, philosophy and literature to one obsessive subject ... a culture war over cars that pits town against country, walkers against drivers and freedom against order * Telegraph *
Terrific ... like being taken for a drive by a hyperactive, unreliable uncle. You're going a way you don't recognise and you've been told not to put on your seatbelt because seatbelts are for squares. As you cling to the sides of your seat, he takes you past a stock car rally, then an off-road race course in the desert. Just as you're approaching something familiar, there's a handbrake turn and off you go down a detour on the Nazis, a bit on utilitarianism, then a lesson on how to drift. He rolls down the window to shout something at some "bicycle moralists" ... His justification for all of this is what he calls "philosophical anthropology", but its real purpose is to tell you what he approves of - mechanics, motorsports, motorbikes, the autobahn, real men and old-fashioned women - and what he doesn't like: bicycles, the pencil pushers at the DMV, "safetyism" and Portland, Oregon * Guardian *
Witty, open-minded and impossible to label as reactionary. As public polymaths go - he's an engineer, physicist, philosopher, sociologist, motorbike mechanic and a restorer of VW Beetles - he leaves Jordan Peterson at the start line -- MELANIE REID * The Times *
Fascinating... Crawford, who is something of an American cultural guru, never strays far from his main thesis, which is how these big tech companies milk us of data, and see the car, so central to our society, as crucial to their mission ... Crawford skilfully takes us through the gears as he intelligently ... flies the flag for individualism over dour corporative determinism -- Andrew Lycett * Mail on Sunday *
Why We Drive is a deeply learned read. There are eye-opening quotes and pensees on every page -- Christopher Bray * Tablet *
Self-directed mobility is central to what we are as humans, Crawford argues ... Now, on the eve of the autonomous vehicle revolution, Crawford begs us to consider what will be lost' -- Melissa Holbrook Pierson * TLS *

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